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Both Cyprus And The E.U. January 4, 2010

Posted by Yilan in EU, European Union, Turkey.
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Speaking at a ceremony in Lefkosa late week marking the 26th anniversary of the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC), Deputy Prime Minister Cemil Cicek said that if some people are thinking that it’s ‘either Cyprus or the EU,’ Turkey’s choice will forever be the Turkish Cypriots, and everyone should understand this. What caused Cicek to say this? Must Turkey make such a choice? What did he mean by ‘some people’ and ‘everyone’? It seems his messages were meant for three different audiences. The first is the European Union. Actually one can’t say now that the EU has to make a choice between Cyprus and Turkey. But the Greek Cypriot administration is always trying to take advantage of its EU membership.

In this respect, the next month will be critical. Ankara will again be asked to fulfill its pledge to open Turkish harbors and airports to the Greek Cypriots. Turkey has already declared that it wouldn’t comply. So what will the EU do then? Will it break off or suspend our membership talks? All signs say this won’t happen. But Cicek’s statement in Lefkosa was actually a warning. In other words, it signaled how Ankara will act if the EU makes the wrong move.

He was also speaking to the Turkish Cypriots. Things are different now, but we shouldn’t forget that five years ago some 65% of Turkish Cypriots voted yes for then UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan’s reunification plan. The main factor in this stance of the Turkish side was the EU motivation. In other words, they hoped the entire island would join the EU and so Turks would also benefit from EU membership. This hope fell through, as the Greek Cypriot side rejected the plan by 76%. But certain Turkish Cypriots still want to join the EU somehow through a resolution. TRNC President Mehmet Ali Talat’s efforts are aimed at this. But any solution of course aims at an agreement under set parameters. As Cicek said, his statements are directed at those trying to make Cyprus an obstacle to Turkey’s EU bid. But he also showed Turkey’s directing and even determining stance and the priority of its own national interests. Furthermore, he showed that if it has to make a choice, Turkey can give up the EU without any hesitation.

Finally, he was also speaking to the Greek Cypriot administration. As I said above, the Greek side is trying to use the EU as a tool in Turkey’s membership talks with the EU, and with this self-confidence is being uncompromising in Cyprus talks. Cicek effectively said that if you’re trying to use Turkey’s EU bid to corner us, you should know that Turkey can give up the EU, but will never forsake the TRNC. I hope Turkey won’t be forced to make a choice. The right thing and the best thing for everybody is both Cyprus and the EU. In other words, a solution to the Cyprus issue and the full EU membership… I think this is still the goal of Turkish diplomacy.

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